Global distribution of measles genotypes and measles molecular epidemiology.
A critical component of laboratory surveillance for measles is the genetic characterization of circulating wild-type viruses. The World Health Organization (WHO) Measles and Rubella Laboratory Network (LabNet), provides for standardized testing in 183 countries and supports genetic characterization of currently circulating strains of measles viruses. The goal of this report is to describe the lessons learned from nearly 20 years of virologic surveillance for measles, to describe the global databases for measles sequences, and to provide regional updates about measles genotypes detected by recent surveillance activities. Virologic surveillance for measles is now well established in all of the WHO regions, and most countries have conducted at least some baseline surveillance. The WHO Global Genotype Database contains >7000 genotype reports, and the Measles Nucleotide Surveillance (MeaNS) contains >4000 entries. This sequence information has proven to be extremely useful for tracking global transmission patterns and for documenting the interruption of transmission in some countries. The future challenges will be to develop quality control programs for molecular methods and to continue to expand virologic surveillance activities in all regions.